Have you ever met a worrier? Maybe you are one, I know I can be sometimes.
You know; the people who somehow long ago got the idea that they need to think about and be responsible for everyone?
They worry about what to wear to work, how their parents are going to get to the doctor’s office, what their nieces are learning in pre-school and when the neighbours are going to decorate for Halloween. They worry about the economy, the state of democracy in Libya and whether or not we’re going to have a snowstorm the day before Christmas when they are supposed to be driving to visit family for the holidays. They worry about their jobs and how other people’s jobs are affected by how well they do theirs (and vice-versa) and they worry about whether or not there will be enough gas in the car to get to soccer practise next week.
You get the picture.
Worriers, worry about all of these things at the same time. The literally hundreds of things in their head at any given moment are enough to send them into a state of shear panic with no warning or a deep depression that can last for days.
You see for a worrier, everything is the equivalent of a helpless baby left in the middle of the road and in need of immediate attention.
Most worriers can see that not everything is their responsibility but the parents are nowhere to be found. If they don’t pick that baby up no one will and there’s a truck coming!
The trick here is for a worrier to recognize that some issues, while they may appear to be babies in the middle of the road are really no more significant than bottle-caps. At worse they are someone else’s baby and not your responsibility but most of the time they are completely insignificant to everyone but you and should be treated like a bottle-cap left in the middle of the road. You can pick it up if you want to, you may even receive some praise and recognition for doing so, but it’s really not going to make any difference, so don’t risk running out in to traffic.
Jesus had some interesting things to say about worry.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and
the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or
reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you
not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single
hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field
grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I
tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like
one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here
today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe
you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What
shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these
things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. [Matthew 6:25-32]
You see; when you worry you take too much responsibility on to yourself. At best you’re doing other people’s jobs and enabling their laziness. At worst, you’re doing God’s job.
On this point worriers can learn a valuable lesson from what is commonly known as the serenity prayer heard at every meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs;
God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Lord, grant me the wisdom to know the difference between a baby, and a bottle-cap.